Friday, June 29, 2012

Wall trenches and house floors

Overhead view of Block 4, Area C, with zone and feature labels.
Students and volunteer Eileen Pigott photo-cleaning Block 4.
Thursday was another productive day of fieldwork, during which even more of our criss-crossing maze of wall trenches in Area C was cleaned and exposed, revealing a truly amazing number of overlapping trenches, creating a patchwork of dark midden, yellow clay fill, and mottled trench fill (our giant "waffle").  On the far western end of Area C, the formerly root-filled 1x2 m unit shows a similar pattern, and indicates that at least one of these trenches seems to extend for at least 11 meters, though a corner may finally have been found on the western end.  During the 20-year mission occupation at the site, there seem to have been a considerable number of rebuilding episodes.

Fine white sand at the boundary of the clay and midden.
Excavating the clay cap from the underlying midden in this westernmost unit was very instructive, confirming that the midden soil must have lain exposed long enough for rain to concentrate fine white sand on the surface, and wash some of it into the depressions of the wall trenches (see picture above), before the chunky yellow clay was deposited over the entire area in order to level the surface. The video below shows this excavation in progress.

Profile of the burned clay floor.
Spanish ceramics from Area E.
Fine-line decoration on a majolica sherd.
Nearby, in Area E, the clay floor of the probable burned structure is also being excavated by Nick Simpson, and the colorful fired clay is brilliant testimony to the burning episode that may have ended the mission's occupation.  This floor level is turning out to contain a substantial amount of residential debris, including several varieties of Spanish majolica tableware and lead glazed cookware (pictured to right) as well as a number of glass seed beads and Native American potsherds.  This area seems to have one of the largest concentrations of Spanish and Native American artifacts at the site, comparable only to the midden in Area C, which may identify it as an area of Spanish or elite Apalachee habitation.  Since it is directly within the stockade wall that seems to outline the Spanish compound, it could be associated with the cavalry barracks, or some other associated building.

Dr. Worth pondering the bewildering pattern of wall trenches.
From atop the ladder used to get high-angle photographs of the excavation units, one can easily see the entire heart of the mission complex through the forest we have been gradually clearing of underbrush during the course of the last four field seasons.  The video below provides an overview of our ongoing excavations this year.

No comments:

Post a Comment